Catoctin Mountain Park

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On Monday, November 14, 2016, the EV charging stations at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland will open for public use. The park has received financial support from the Geller Family Foundation through Adopt a Charger to fund the electricity used by visitors to charge their vehicles.

As we reported in August, Catoctin Mountain Park installed charging stations in November, 2015 but later learned of a policy that National Parks with electric vehicle charging equipment could not provide the electricity for charging at the taxpayers’ expense. The Park was unable to find an acceptable solution for taking payments and attempts to get a waiver of the policy had failed. The staff at the park had redoubled their efforts to find a solution when they were approached by Adopt a Charger and their donor.

Adopt a Charger is a nonprofit organization that helps speed the adoption of electric vehicles by helping to provide EV charging stations which are “adopted” by sponsors. Corporations, organizations, and individuals donate funds to install and maintain charging stations at parks, museums, and other public places.

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The initial funding to purchase and install the electric vehicle charging equipment was provided by a grant from the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program in partnership with the National Park Service.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Corridors Selected for Maryland

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Congratulations to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for having 462 miles of Maryland highways designated as National Electric Vehicle Charging Corridors by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. MDOT had nominated four highways to be considered for inclusion in the newly designated electric vehicle routes. All four of Maryland’s proposed routes were selected.

R. Earl Lewis, Jr., Deputy Secretary for Policy, Planning, & Enterprise Services of MDOT said, “The Maryland Department of Transportation is very excited about the news that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has designated 462 miles of Maryland highways as Alternative Fuel / Electric Vehicle Corridors. This designation is another great step forward to give drivers the confidence to count on their electric and alternative fuel vehicles for short and long trips. Having electric vehicle corridors in every corner of our state from I-70 in Western Maryland to US 50 all the way to Ocean City will provide great value to Maryland citizens and businesses as the public and private sector work together to expand this infrastructure. Working with our federal, state and regional partners, we can make Maryland’s electric vehicle deployment and greenhouse gas reduction goals a reality.”

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Electric Vehicle Fast Charger sign on Route 50 in Cambridge, MD

Maryland Alternative Fuel Corridors
I-95: From DE state line to VA state line – 110 miles
I-270: Entire length of corridor – 35 miles
I-70/I-68: From Baltimore to WV border – 174 miles
US-50: From Washington, DC border to Ocean City – 143 miles

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National Wildlife Visitor Center Solar Canopy Charging

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Have you ever heard of the Patuxent Research Refuge? I hadn’t, until an EV charging station appeared there recently. I decided to take a trip there to check out the dual port ChargePoint station installed under a solar canopy. I’m glad I did. The charging station introduced me to a beautiful lake and hiking trail. If you like the outdoors, you’ll love this EV Plug In Site.

The charging station is in the parking lot of the National Wildlife Visitor Center in the South Tract of the Refuge. The Patuxent Research Refuge was established in 1936 to support wildlife research. Its mission is “to help protect and conserve the nation’s wildlife and habitat through research on critical environmental problems and issues.” It has 12,841 acres of forest, meadows and wetlands.

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We plugged in and took a leisurely 1.4 mile walk around the perimeter of Cash Lake which supports a variety of waterfowl, songbirds, beaver and other wildlife. There are other short trails in the area totaling 5 miles as well as the Visitor Center and book store which is open 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM daily. Closed on Federal holidays.

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The address is 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel, MD 20708.

The charging station costs $1.00 per hour and you should bring your ChargePoint card or App to activate it.

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Touring Gettysburg in Electric Cars 1908 – 2016

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We recently joined a group of Tesla drivers who gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to drive through the battlefield following the self-guided Auto Tour. We were not the first electric cars to tour the famous Civil War site.

On November, 25, 1908, Oliver Fritchle stopped in Gettysburg on his 1800 mile drive from Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City in his “100 Mile Fritchle Electric” that his company manufactured at a factory in Denver, Colorado. His trip was staged to demonstrate the long distance capability and durability of his electric car and batteries.

When Fritchle pulled up to the Eagle Hotel in Gettysburg at 3:00 that rainy afternoon, a battlefield guide named Harry Gilbert offered his services. Gilbert was the son of a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg and his father still lived in town. Fritchle and Gilbert toured the Gettysburg battlefield in the car and took pictures of points of interest. Two of those photos are shown above along with the same scene today shown with a Tesla Model S.

Gettysburg did not have an electric vehicle charging station in 1908 so Fritchle charged at the power house for the electric street car system. He converted the system’s 500 volts using an improvised rheostat made from running the current through a barrel of water. Article on Water-Rheostat Construction.

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Tesla Supercharger in Laurel, Maryland is Now Open

The Tesla Supercharger in Laurel, MD quietly opened around 11:30 AM Friday, September 23, 2016. Tesla driver Vera Schoeters was the first to plug in according to the electrical contractors who had just finished some final work and moved the orange cones out of the eight stalls.

Laurel Tesla Supercharger

photo by @verastamps

Construction of the Supercharger station at the Towne Centre at Laurel began on May 4, 2016. Major construction had been completed by June and the site appeared ready to open but the power remained off for several months apparently due to technical issues that were resolved by the crew last week.


On Sunday, September 25th, a group of Tesla owners and enthusiasts gathered for an unofficial ribbon cutting to inaugurate the Laurel Supercharger. Although Tesla hasn’t officially commemorated it, Laurel appears to be the 300th Supercharger station to open in the US according to the statistics on supercharge.info.

About 23 Teslas, including a Roadster and several Model X’s were at the celebration. After the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, many of the attendees continued the socializing at one of the restaurants in the Towne Centre.

A few hints for new visitors to the Laurel Supercharger:

  • The closest bathroom is in the lobby of the Regal Cinema.
  • A Starbucks is in the Harris Teeter grocery store.
  • Harris Teeter, open 6 AM – midnight, has WiFi and a seating area.

Here is a Directory of Shops & Services at Towne Centre at Laurel.

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Laurel Supercharger Opening Soon?

UPDATE: Laurel Supercharger is open as of September 23, 2016.

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According to the Property Manager at Towne Centre at Laurel, Tesla plans to open the Laurel Supercharger sometime this week. Lawrence Lashley, who works for Greenberg Gibbons Commercial, the development group that owns and operates the Towne Centre at Laurel, told Plug In Sites in a phone interview that he spoke with Tesla yesterday and that Tesla hopes to open the Supercharger Station by this Saturday, September 17.
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Funds Nearly Depleted for Maryland Plug-In Vehicle Excise Tax Credit for Fiscal Year 2017

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UPDATE: Funds are now depleted.

Maryland plug-in electric vehicle buyers may want to be aware of this. According to the Maryland MVA, the funds for the Plug-In Vehicle Excise Tax Credit for fiscal year 2017 are nearly depleted.

The following bulletin is dated August 29, 2016

Please be advised that the allotted funds for plug-in electric vehicles for fiscal year 2017 are nearly depleted. Once funds are gone, the program will end and we will not accept or process any excise tax credits for plug-in electric vehicles. Please alert your customers to this information prior to their purchase.

We will issue another Bulletin when the funds are gone.

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Level 1 Workplace Charging – Dept. of Energy Report

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A report on Level 1 (120 volt) EV charging at work has just been published by the US Department of Energy. The 20 page report covers two scenarios for providing Level 1 EV charging at workplaces. Scenario A is making a 120 volt outlet available for employees to plug their own charging equipment into. Scenario B is the workplace providing Level 1 charging equipment with a J-1772 connector for employee use.

Level 1 charging is capable of replenishing between 30 and 40 miles of range while connected for an 8 hour workday. Over 90% of employees in the US commute less than 35 miles.

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The report suggests policies that employers can put in place to help ensure the success of a workplace charging program. Fee structures to recover the cost of Level 1 charging are also suggested.

The experiences of several Department of Energy Workplace Charging Challenge partners, including Coca-Cola in Atlanta and Melink in Milford, Ohio, are shared.

A PDF of the report can be downloaded at the Dept. of Energy website: L1 Charging At The Workplace.

Why Some Baltimore Charging Stations Are Padlocked

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Some EV drivers have noted that padlocks have appeared on three of the four Level 2 charging stations in the Arena Garage in Baltimore City preventing them from being used. I reached out to the City of Baltimore to ask why.

According to Chance Dunbar, off-street parking manager for the Parking Authority of Baltimore, the three charging stations have been removed from service because of low demand for EV charging in that garage. “We cannot keep these spaces reserved and empty, so until demand increases they will not be utilized for EV vehicles only.”

Frank Lee, an energy analyst in the city’s Department of Public Works said there have apparently been many ICE drivers demanding to use those parking spaces on the 2nd level of the garage. Mr. Lee indicated that there have been no EV drivers that have requested to use the charging stations. Continue reading

National Park Service: No Free EV Charging

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Catoctin Mountain Park Seeks NPS Waiver to Open Public Charging Stations

Last Sunday, I learned that five EV charging stations at Catoctin Mountain Park that are supposed to be available to the public have not been turned on since they were installed in December last year. The project cost $69,580 as part of a US Department of Energy and National Parks Initiative to support clean transportation and educate park visitors on the benefits of cutting vehicle emissions and petroleum use. At the Visitor Center parking area, a sign identifying the charging stations is covered by a dark plastic bag.

I reached out to the park superintendent who directed me to a staff member who has been working to get the EV charging stations open. When I spoke with her this week, she explained the challenges of navigating the National Park Service rules and regulations related to providing public access to the equipment.

When the park originally requested funding for the project through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities grant, they had planned to let the public use them free of charge. The staff researched other National Parks that had charging stations and found that only a few examples existed at the time. Catoctin chose to base their plan on the model of Zion National Park. Zion used ClipperCreek Model CS40 charging stations with Liberty Access Technology keypads that use codes that are not dependent on WIFI or a network connection. The keypads were to be there only as a contingency in case the park wanted to control access in the future. Continue reading